San Miguel cleared to hike water rates in Bulacan

Published November 21, 2021, 7:00 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

San Miguel Corp.’s Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation (LCWDC) was cleared to increase water rates in areas covered by the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project (BBWSP).

In a statement, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) announced that LCWD will impose a P0.35 centavos per cubic meter increase in the Bulk Water Charge (BWC) to its partner Water Districts (WDs) and Water Service Providers (WSP).

From the current P8.50 pesos per cubic meter water charge of LCWDC, the new rate starting January 1, 2022 is P9.08 pesos per cubic meter.

The P9.08 BWC accounts for the approved increase last year of 0.23 centavos per cubic meter.

Photo from PPP Center

LCWD is a consortium of San Miguel Corp. and K-Water Resources Corp. and is the third concessionaire of the MWSS. It is in charge of developing and operating the P24-billion BBWSP, which is a public-private partnership project meant to provide a steady, clean, and potable water supply in Bulacan.

According to MWSS, the water rate increase actually came in late since LCWD decided to defer the implementation of its 2021 BWC increase in order “to alleviate the financial difficulties of Bulacan water customers during the height of the COVID pandemic”.

The BBWSP supplies bulk treated water to 13 local government units (LGUs), covered by Stages 1 and 2 of the BBWSP.

The water districts that will be affected by the rate increase are Balagtas Water District, Bocaue Water District, Bulakan Water District, Calumpit Water District, Guiguinto Water District, City of Malolos Water District, Marilao Water District, City of Meycauayan Water District, Obando Water District, Paombong Water Supply System, Plaridel Water District, City of San Jose Del Monte Water District, and Santa Maria Water District.

The customers in Bulacan served by LCWDC enjoy the lowest bulk water charge in the country since 2019, according to MWSS.

With the MWSS’s recent approval of LCWDC’s updated Business Plan, which includes Stage 3a of BBWSP, the company’s total coverage will increase from 13 to 20 areas in the next few years.

To recall, Business Bulletin reported in September that the MWSS Board of Trustees already approved the Updated Business Plan (UBP) of LCWDC regarding the next stage of BBWSP.

The approval of the UBP will allow LCWDC to commence the design and engineering stage of the third stage of BBSP.

Prior to the approval of the UBP, former MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco established a UBP Review Committee (URC) to ensure that LCWDC’s future direction and priorities are in line with the BBWSP Concession Agreement (CA) and that its strategies benefit Bulacan as a whole.

The URC looked at the investments for new assets to be developed, cash requirements to meet operational investments, and cost-cutting strategies for the entire project life-cycle.

During the review, the MWSS Board made sure that the project will continue to help improve the quality of life of its customers, and that water supply can continue even during calamities. They also raised concerns on environmental protection given that the groundwater resources in the service area have already been depleted.

The UBP covers the technical, financial, and operational aspects of BBWSP Stage 3, including the construction of extension lines to be connected from the existing Stage 1 and 2 systems as well as the construction of pumping station to provide supply to Pandi and Hagonoy, as well as augmentation of the supply to Sta Maria (Stage 2) and Bocaue (Stage 1) Water districts.

The plan also covers the construction of a Norzagaray Modular Water Treatment Plant inside the MWSS Bigte Compound with pipeline connection to existing waterline to supply the beneficiary barangays of the Municipality of Norzagaray. The treatment plant will have a capacity of 10 million liters of water per day (MLD).

The target operational data for the Stage 3a of BBWSP is January 2023.